• Counsel - Employment & Litigation

    Job ID
    Employment Type
    Regular Full-Time
    Travel Required
    Up to 25%
    Position Location(s)
    US-SD-Sioux Falls
    FLSA Status
  • At POET, our mission is to be good stewards of the Earth by efficiently converting renewable resources to energy and other valuable goods.  Our drive and commitment to change the world has enabled us to become the largest producer and marketer of biofuels.


    Over the last 30 years, we’ve grown from a single bioprocessing facility in Scotland, South Dakota to the world’s largest producer of ethanol and co-products, with 28 bioprocessing facilities across the Midwest.  And we’re using that same innovative spirit to begin producing ethanol from plant materials other than grain.  Our integrated business model combines cutting-edge technology development at our laboratories and pilot-scale facility with expertise in construction, operations management, marketing, logistics solutions, communications and policy leadership, all of which enable us to be a unique leader in the renewable economy.



    POET’s legal team manages the legal needs of POET and all of its affiliates, including the 28 bioprocessing facilities.  From regulatory work to mergers and acquisitions, contracts to intellectual property, and litigation to employment, we work hand-in-glove with our POET business partners to know the law and our businesses, assess and mitigate risk, think strategically, and provide the best and most practical guidance for our team members and growing company.



    You will work independently and with POET’s Senior Counsel for Employment and Litigation on a range of matters.  You will work with our human resources team—which we call our CARE Team—on issues ranging from hiring to performance management to benefits and beyond.  On the employment litigation side, you will help prepare POET’s responses to complaints received from the EEOC, OSHA and other governmental agencies and help manage the defense of any claims for wrongful termination and enforcement of our restrictive covenants.  On the non-employment litigation side, you will work on matters ranging from claims for trade secret misappropriation to breach of contract and personal injury. 


    We perform this work internally, whenever feasible.  Other times, we work with outside counsel.  In those events, we work closely with outside counsel to formulate and drive case strategy and manage budgets and outside use of our business partners’ internal resources.  We also give practical trainings to our business partners.  Above all, we are business partners with a unique skill set and perspective. 



    POET’s Counsel – Employment and Litigation will have superior legal abilities and potential, excellent people and communication skills, and a keen and versatile intellect.  Although specific subject-matter experience is important, creativity, practicality, self-awareness, and communication style are of equal importance.  Essential job functions include:



    • Employment: Respond quickly and accurately to management and our other business partners with practical solutions on a range of day-to-day and long-range employment issues.  You will also develop and deliver trainings to business partners on topics that you will help identify.  Additionally, you will proactively foster professional relationships with business partners throughout POET, especially the CARE business team.
    • Employment Litigation: You will work independently and with the Senior Counsel for Employment and Litigation to answer charges and complaints received from the EEOC, OSHA and other governmental agencies.  We will also work together and with outside counsel in defending employment-related lawsuits and in enforcing restrictive covenants.
    • Other Litigation: You will work independently, with the Senior Counsel for Employment and Litigation and/or outside counsel to resolve contractual disputes, enforce POET’s trade secret rights and on other commercial matters.
    • In all of these areas, you will be responsible for developing, monitoring, and adhering to budgets.


    • Provide leadership on cross-functional teams while identifying legal issues, providing analysis, and offering recommendations that further POET’s business and legal objectives.
    • Assist in the development and review of company policies and procedures based on legal requirements and sound risk-management practices.
    • Engage and manage outside counsel, including negotiating project staffing, rates, budgets, deliverables, and timelines; review and approve invoices; assess performance; and provide honest feedback.
    • Act as a positive agent for change by offering ideas, solutions, and feedback to continually improve business practices and results.


    To perform this position successfully, the ideal job candidate will have:



    • About two to five years of legal practice, including significant experience in employment law.  In-house counsel experience is a plus.
    • Broad-based experience in a range of employment law matters, including recruiting, hiring, compensation and benefits, performance management, internal investigations, leaves of absence, workplace accommodations, anti-discrimination/harassment/retaliations laws, traditional labor and union organizing laws, contingent workforce issues, FLSA classifications, restrictive covenants, and trade secret matters.
    • Litigation experience in federal and state courts and before administrative law judges, including familiarity with contract disputes and other types of commercial litigation, employment litigation, trade secret misappropriation and breaches of duty of confidentiality, personal injury suits, and other general business litigation.
    • Industry experience involving the finance, trading, and transportation of biofuel products and agricultural commodities is a plus.



    • Ability to creatively resolve legal issues in a manner that will advance POET’s goals.
    • Excellence in counseling executives and other managers in a confident, succinct, and plain-language manner.
    • Superior negotiation skills.
    • Outstanding analytical competency applied in complex business disputes and claims.
    • Patient, active listening and strategic-thinking skills.
    • Capacity to push for results while serving business partners in a collaborative environment.
    • Ability to delegate responsibility and expect accountability while fostering a spirit of teamwork.
    • Successful track record with budgeting and conservatively stewarding financial resources.



    • J.D. with excellent credentials from an ABA accredited, nationally recognized law school.
    • Currently licensed to practice law in at least one state.
    • If you are not licensed in South Dakota, you must be willing to get licensed within a year of your hire. 

    To review a complete job description click here.


    POET is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE). Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability or veteran status.



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